Act Before It’s Too Late

If serious action isn’t taken —soon — Alameda residents will find themselves stuck in hour-long traffic jams when leaving the island.

Alameda will have its moment of truth — a day when there won’t be enough money to mitigate all the traffic congestion spawned by out-of-control growth and permit parking costing homeowners over a $400 per year. Residents will only find buses that are also stuck in traffic. When that day comes, there will be no turning back. Our fragile quality of life will be gone forever.

Plain talk is where truth resides. Yet, the city overwhelms taxpayers with reams of complex documents that stymie the average voters. Why has City Hall refused to consider how much longer it will take residents to leave the island via car or bus? Why hasn’t the city been able to explain the effects of all this growth?

Could it be that the city council, staff and consultants don’t want the residents to know the true effects of the projects? They do mention mitigations, but those mitigations are only likely to address a tiny percentage of the traffic and parking impacts.

How is it the Del Monte project’s traffic report states there are a) No parking problems even though the parking supply is only 1.25 cars per unit and the average car ownership is 2.2 cars per unit in Alameda as per the 2000 Census? and b) When all the developments on the island are built, conclude there will only be 19 more cars than today going through the Posey Tube during the peak morning hour by year 2035 and then concluding in no added congestion due to Del Monte and all the development projects combined on the West End?

And it should not take someone like me with a civil engineering license to opine that the city’s idea to lower the parking supply at future development projects is simply not workable in Alameda where sufficient parking supply exist around the development sites. The new residents will park in the surrounding neighborhood streets instead. Traffic will not be reduced as the city keeps on saying with reduced parking supply. What will be reduced is the cost for not building the larger garages under the condominium complexes and greatly increasing the developers’ profits.

The Del Monte project at 414 residential units along with all the other mega-projects planned by council is a bad idea for our island. Why all these risks with irreversible harm and without the consideration that Alameda is an island?

Alamedans need to speak up to cap the growth at a reasonable level and require developers to supply parking comparable to actual car ownership patterns, not to the new city standards set by the wishful anti-car folks. These unproven and unsustainable standards will result in irreversible harm to our neighborhoods.

The island and its connections to the East Bay need to work for all users, its residents and businesses, pedestrians, bicycles, cars, trucks and buses.

Ignoring the problems and then creating nightmarish congestion and parking problems will ruin what is so great about Alameda. This has been going on continuously since the environmental document process regarding Alameda Point started, through proposed projects like Neptune Point and today with the Del Monte and other northern waterfront projects.

Now is the time to take action. Let us move forward and use our taxpayers’ dollars to build a community we can be proud of. That I believe starts with voting for Frank Matarrese for City Council who supports a cap on residential development and for Trish Spencer for mayor who comes with a fresh approach.

And secondly, I urge residents to speak up and let council know they must define the traffic and financial risks and challenges clearly and accurately.

So many have tried, have volunteered many hours, provided written and oral constructive comments, but council ignores them. Sadly, I too have lost total trust in any professional report from the city.

I urge all Alamedans to vote for Matarrese and Spencer for more government transparency, an open debate of the traffic and financial challenges and for capping development to a level that is reasonable for our island. As of now, I will not vote for the other council seat, neither candidate is concerned about the extremely risky financial and development decisions being made by current council.

Act today. Tomorrow it will be too late.

Eugenie Thomson, P.E., lives in Alameda.